Diagnosis Arthritis… What’s Next?

In our last entry, we talked about signs and symptoms that might lead you to believe your pet is suffering from arthritis. If you feel that your pet has some of the tell tale signs, the best thing you can do is to get them into your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. If it turns out that your beloved pet does have arthritis, what kind of treatment options exist? Here are a few things that your veterinarian might suggest.

First and foremost, excessive weight can be a mediating factor for arthritis. Those extra pounds put more stress on the joints. In addition, the excessive fat tissue secretes hormones that promote pain. If your dog is overweight and has arthritis, exercise will be a key component in the treatment plan. The exercise should be very low impact, so as to not place additional stress on the joints. Things likes walking on a leash, swimming and even mild jogging can help your dog to lose weight. If it is your cat that is overweight, the exercise plan might include interactive play. You can find what toys stimulate your cat and encourage them to play. Also, food puzzles can help keep your cat active and help with overeating.

In addition to exercise, your veterinarian might suggest medication to help with the arthritis. For dogs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are the most frequently prescribed. These can include Rimadyl, Etogesic and Deramaxx, just to name a few.  There are also other non-NSAID medications that can be used such as tramadol, buprenorphine, Fentanyl. These can be used separately or be combined with the NSAIDs to provide further pain relief. This would be per your veterinarian’s discretion.  For cats, the medical treatment of arthritis is a bit different.  Most veterinarians are reluctant to give NSAIDs to cats due their sensitivity to these medications. They will however prescribe the non-NSAID medications such as buprenorphine, tramadol and Fentanyl. Finally there is one last medication that has been shown to help protect the cartilage and promote joint health in cats called Adequan. This is an injectable medication that had been shown to be very helpful with some cats.

If you do not want to go straight to medicine, there are naturally occurring supplements that can sometimes help alleviate swelling and joint pain. These include glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). Acupuncture and massage have also been shown to help in both dogs and cats. There are also the options of hydrotherapy and laser therapy, though these treatments are not as common.

The most important thing you can do is to talk with your veterinarian at length about what the best treatment would be for your dog or cat. Discuss diet, exercise, supplements and medication. Write down any questions you have in advance so that you are sure to get all the information you need. Your veterinarian will be happy to help you find the best path to getting your pets as comfortable and pain free as possible!

By on March 6th, 2014 in Pet Care